By making Sinn Fein the de facto opposition, the leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green party have cemented their own demise.  

Upon watching the iconoclastic mania sweep the United Kingdom, I was reminded of the final scene in Franklin Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes: “You finally really did it. You maniacs, you blew it up! God damn you all to hell!” where Charlton Heston’s character realises that it was mankind that had caged itself all along.  

Such acts of self-harm are often a symptom of a deeper underlying issue. In the instance of statue-destruction, it is the left’s increasing denationalisation of its cause clothed in a shroud of anger against racism in a country where racism is in fact, dramatically decreasing. This of course puts it at odds with the average Joe who does, in fact, like his country, meaning that such causes will struggle to ever be popular outside of their metro-minglings.  

In the same vein, the newly agreed ‘That’s Grand’ Coalition of Fine Gael (FG)Fianna Fáil (FF) and the Green party is another overt act of self-harm that betrays a much deeper issue, that of an establishment that will do anything to avoid addressing its own failings and the needs of the population.  

I talk of course of how, four months after an election that brought down its government, Ireland has patched together a new one that excludes the party which won the popular vote: Sinn Fein (24.5%).  

Whether or not you agree or disagree with Sinn Fein is moot. This new government is chockfull of the old, and by keeping Sinn Fein out of government, has made the party of the IRA the default opposition. Expect to hear calls of how the Irish populace has been hoodwinked, an election stolen and voices silenced. This coalition couldn’t have done a better job at vindicating their new opposition’s cause: “Look at how similar they are, we’re different, and now they have proven it”.  

The old Bolshevik idiom, “The worse, the better”, used prior to the toppling of the Tzar, illustrates the problem well. By grasping at straws and cobbling together a coalition of odd jobs that means nothing to anyone, the two major parties not only fail to address why neither of them won a majority in the first place (and thus error-correct) but they also invigorate the claims of their (now) main opposition. 

This whack-a-mole reaction against grassroots sentimentalities is nothing new. In 2018, Germany’s Grand Coalition of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and the Social Democrats (SPD), made the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), formed only in 2013, the default opposition.  

Since 2018, the AfD’s support has not dwindled. In February, it sent shockwaves through German politics after it cast the deciding vote for the premiership of Thuringia. This was the first time since World War Two that a German politician was been elected on the back of support from a populist party to the highest role in state politics. The coalition, far from diminish the threat, legitimised and then galvanised it.  

We see this further south too. In September, Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League party, was ejected from government following a gamble for more power. Following the misstep, a coalition between arch-rivals the centre-left Democratic party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, was formed. Since then, the League’s fortunes remain unabashed, and the party remains the nation’s most popular despite the excommunication.  

What this suggests is that, more often then not, these coalitions-of-nothing are tantamount to governance-on-borrowed-time. In Italy, it is likely that Salvini will have more power than before following the next election. In Germany too, the AfD are going nowhere, with many politicians kowtowing to the AfDs arguments and thus emboldening them.    

Now with this new coalition in Ireland, the likelihood of a Sinn Fein government in the future is much higher than it was before. Up the RA’ indeed.  

Of course, a lot rests on how the government handles the current crisis, but by the very nature of the bargain they have made between themselves, neither of the main parties can receive credit for any miracle-work they may achieve. By contrast both will undoubtedly receive criticism for each other’s mistakes.  

But alas, the deed is done, and like so many self-fulfilling prophecies, this moribund bunch of ministers have most likely sealed their own fate. By trying to do what they think is best for the people, they will instead continue to alienate them.  

Nothing more than subpar selection of the greatest hits of a bygone order, the coalition parties now wait to be wheeled out one by one to parrot each other’s lines to a population that wanted something different. They, themselves, versus Sinn Fein.